Miller the only "pure rural Democrat’ running
About 100 years later, Leadville’s biggest mine closed down, throwing hundreds of people out of work and devastating the local economy.
Carl Miller’s family lived in Leadville during both.
Many people lay claim to being area locals, but few can match Miller. His family has been in Leadville since 1893. He served 12 years as a Lake County commissioner and three terms in the Colorado House of Representatives – and he’s looking for a fourth.
Miller points to that lineage and experience, plus his six years in the Colorado House of Representatives, when he talks about his qualifications for another term. If elected, it would be his last; he’s term-limited.
“Of the 27 Democrats in the House, I’m the only pure rural Democrat,” he said. The rest, Miller said, are from either metro Denver or Colorado Springs.
“If you’re from Denver or Colorado Springs, you have eight or nine legislators,” Miller said. “Rural legislators don’t have those kinds of numbers. That’s why we stick together.”
He said his voting record indicates a strong independent streak, and he sometimes crosses party lines for what he said is the good of his district.
“My votes are not always their votes,” said Miller. “I always put my district before party politics.”
If you don’t have two or three Carl Miller business cards, it’s because you left it in your pocket when you washed your pants. He encourages people to call early and call often.
“Rural legislators listen better than urban legislators,” Miller said.
Miller has made a life-long habit of sticking together. He and his wife have been married 41 years. They have two children and four grandchildren.
Miller was a Lake County commissioner when the Climax Mine closed and the area’s economy went south. The county was forced to make brutal budget cuts, and he said the area still hasn’t fully recovered.
“We never thought the mine would close completely,” he said of his employer for 30 years.
He took over the National Mining Museum and Hall of Fame in 1989, starting with a vacant building, and ran it until 1996, when he first won a seat in the State Capitol.
A state legislator’s job is mostly indoor work and there’s no heavy lifting – a far cry from Miller’s 30-year career as a miner.
Miller said he knows more than most people, and any other legislator, what it’s like to actually work for a living. And that’s why the midnight hours state lawmakers sometimes work get nothing more than a shrug from Miller.
It’s his job – he wanted it, he campaigned for it, he likes it and he said that after after six years, he wants to do it one more time.
“The Democrat-to-Republican ratio is not in my favor, but it hasn’t been in my favor in last three elections,” he said. “If we’re working together, we’ll be successful in November.”